Flying Fish Oktoberfish is a 5.5% ABV German-style ale that’s only available from September 1 to November 1 – maybe. Its quite popular, especially around New Jersey where its brewed, so its understandable that it doesn’t last on the shelves very long in these parts! BTW, congrats to Flying Fish on their recent GABF Gold for their Exit 4 beer (which I can not find ANYWHERE – hint, hint) and also a Bronze Medal for their IPA Hopfish.
The Oktoberfish isn’t really a Marzen in the classic sense. Marzens are lagers and this Jersey beer is an ale. (am I right?) So what are these Jersey guys trying to do? The name is Oktoberfest-like, and the label is Bavarian blue-and-white checks.
‘What’s a Marzen’ you ask? Well a Marzen, or Marzen Bier (March Beer in German) is traditionally a lager brewed between the months of September and April. Today, its typically brewed as a seasonal beer and is most commonly found in the Autumn and oddly not in March.
Well, Oktoberfish claims European malts, hops and yeast on the ingredient list. The Flying Fish website lists their malts as Weyermans Munich, Dingemanns Aromatic, Dingemanns De-Bittered Black and Two-row pale. The hops used are Horizon and Crystal, and would you believe Dusseldorf Alt yeast is used? I kid, I have no idea what Dusseldorf Ale yeast is, but as you’ll see it ends up making some great-tasting beer!
Pouring the Oktoberfish, my glass is filled with a very clear and nicely copper-colored brew. You can see in the picture that a thick foamy head formed and it actually created a nice bit of lacing on my glass.
I’ve had a few nice Oktoberfest beers lately, and the smell is familiar. Most prominently there is a noticeable malty aroma that is coupled with that bready kind of smell that seems so common among Marzen beers, even though this technically isn’t a marzen.
Getting on to the taste, (which is what matters most), this beer hit the spot! The flavor follows the aroma quite closely – sweet maltyness, bready flavors with a pinch of citrus or something slightly sharp, perhaps the hops in there too just at the end for some crispness and balance. Very smooth, very enjoyable mouthfeel – this is not a watery beer, nor is it highly carbonated.
I found the Oktoberfish’s aftertaste really pleasant and not bitter, weird or annoying at all. There is no alcohol flavors popping through either which I appreciated.
I’ve had the opportunity to sample quite a few very nice Oktoberfest beers, and especially among the domestic interpretation of the style, I thought this one was really quite nice. I found it easily drinkable and enjoyable, perhaps not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly far from the worst. I would get the Flying Fish Oktoberfish again without a doubt.
I really dig these more malty Marzen beers, and Oktoberfish delivers. I’m going to give this brew from New Jersey 3 stars. Its good, but I think the offering from Left Hand might edge it out – by just a hair.
I might have to revisit some of the German Marzens again to refresh my memory, but this year the domestics from Left Hand and now Flying Fish have really impressed me. Buy local beer people, its good stuff!
Have you tried Oktoberfish? What’s your favorite Domestic Marzen, and do you think its better than the German classics?